PORTLAND, Ore. — Dr. David Hotchkin, of The Oregon Clinic, has been practicing medicine for more than a decade. He has seen a lot, but nothing like COVID-19.
"We see individuals come in incredibly sick," he said. "We see individuals who are otherwise healthy, literally dying and then requiring every bit of effort we can provide. We see individuals staying sicker in the hospital longer than we've ever seen before."
Dr. Hotchkin says the people falling ill with the coronavirus are not necessarily older.
"We're seeing a significant number of individuals with COVID pneumonia in the hospital and in the ICU," he said. "They're in their 30s and 40s, people younger than us, they're healthy and otherwise functional."
Dr. Hotchkin remembers strong, muscular guy who was so sick with COVID-19 that he could not muster up the energy to eat some food. He recalls another COVID patient whose heart stopped and had to be restarted within an hour of arriving in the emergency room. Dr. Hotchkin also remembers a young woman who was on a ventilator and in the hospital for months because of the virus.
"People say and I've heard this before, we're making up these stories. I wish patients could share them, but they're often so sick they don't want to share them or they're so sick they can't talk afterward."
Dr. Hotchkin says the best way to beat this is by wearing masks.
"When you're outside, when you're inside, if you can't guarantee you'll be six feet away or more from individuals, wear a mask," he said. "Do it because you want to protect everyone else, because you're kind and decent human being."
Dr. Hotchkin encourages people to continue that decency through the holiday season and stay home.
"I'm not going to see my family for Thanksgiving or my wife's for Christmas," he said. "We're going to stay home and not do a large family gathering. We've decided we don't want to share and spread the risk of COVID amongst other individuals."